Encounter with the Black Magpie in Perak, Malaysia

posted in: Species, Vocalisation | 0

“I am sure some of you occasionally have ‘instincts’ or ‘feelings’ that you are going to see a specific bird. I have been an increasing ‘feeling’ that I was going to see this uncommon bird for the past 10 days, so was delighted when I heard the calls last week.

“This is the third time that I have seen these birds. The first was in February 1989 when I saw 3 adults, with my wife, on a hill near the Kuching state mosque in Borneo. That was the Black Magpie (Platysmurus leucopterus aterrimus). In February 2011 I saw a small party of 4 at Kledang-Sayong Forest Reserve, Ipoh, Perak (no images). And last week I saw 3, possibly 4 on at the Ulu Kinta Forest Reserve along an ex-logging trail through mixed secondary jungle bordered by primary jungle. I had been avoiding this area as it has become unsafe due to robberies, but was glad I made the attempt.

“I observed this group of at least 3, possibly 4, for 30 minutes but views were limited. Calls were extensive throughout the time… HERE: Black Magpie-calls-1b-Ulu Kinta Forest Reserve, Perak, Malaysia-1st March 2013

“Images were limited as they predominantly spent time under very dark conditions (below right). I got good views when they flew cross the small path (above and below left), but whatever images were by the grace of God.

“Generally a dark black bird with a long white wing bar, dark red iris and a small crest. This bird is a treepie and, as my wife recorded in 1989, some guide books fail to show that the tail is much longer, when perched, than often shown in drawings.

“There is limited local knowledge about foraging (see Wells 2007). I saw one with a fruit in the beak that it continued to carry when in flight. Taking into account the extensive, responsive calls I heard from at least 3 birds, I suspect the food and calls were possibly a courtship ritual. The other possibility is feeding an immature/juvenile, but I only saw two birds clearly and they were both adults.

Dato’ Dr Amar-Singh HSS
Ulu Kinta Forest Reserve, Perak, Malaysia
Ipoh, Perak, Malaysia
1st March 2013

Red Data Status: Near Threatened (locally vulnerable bordering on endangered)

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